Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Alas, it sometimes happens that caring and loving parents are faced with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. At the moment, scientists and pediatricians have not come to a single opinion about this situation’s possible causes, but there are already several assumptions. Many mothers are interested in SIDS symptoms and at what age there is a certain risk of facing a problem. Let’s understand the concept of SIDS and also find out what kind of disease it is.

What is SIDS

A diagnosis is given to infants who die unexpectedly in their sleep for no medical reason. They talk about the syndrome if the data of the child’s medical documentation, along with the study of the place of death and the data of the pathological autopsy, do not indicate the exact and specific cause of the baby’s death. As follows from the term’s interpretation, SIDS excludes the presence of infectious diseases, congenital or acquired morphological and functional disorders in the body.

What can trigger the onset of the syndrome

Over the decades of research into sudden infant death syndrome, several underlying theories and causes have been established. Some of them have remained only the historical heritage of medicine, while others continue to work. In modern medicine, sudden infant death syndrome in newborns refers to parasomnias, in other words, sleep disorders. One of the hypotheses that can clarify this theory is sleep apnea – lack of breathing.

Another theory is that cardiac arrhythmias or arrhythmias are the leading cause of sudden infant death. According to scientists, children with an extended QT interval on an ECG are more at risk than others. This indicator graphically reflects the time during which the ventricles contract and completely relax. Normally, it is equal to 0.43 – 0.45 ms. An increase in the interval can lead to ventricular arrhythmias, which is the reason for stopping the heart muscle activity. In this position of the body, compression of the vertebral artery occurs, a decrease in the supply of the brain stem, and, as a result, central apnea.

  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  • The young age of the expectant mother (pregnancy before the age of 20).
  • Premature birth.
  • Premature baby, as well as body weight less than two and a half kilograms.
  • Artificial feeding of a baby.
  • Boys are more affected than girls.
  • Sleep on your stomach.
  • Soft mattress.
  • A safe kids mattress is crucially important.
  • Violation of thermoregulation during sleep.
  • Smoking with a baby.
  • SIDS is more common in winter.
  • 2 – 4 months of a child’s life.
  • Nicotine or drug addiction of the expectant mother during pregnancy.
  • Incorrectly selected pillow, soft mattress, blanket.
  • Excessive air temperature in the children’s room.
  • Extra items in the crib (bottle, baby toys, and pacifiers).

Up to what age are children at risk:

  • Typically, the peak of SIDS occurs at 13 weeks of life.
  • For children under two months of age, the syndrome is not typical, and after six months of life, the probability decreases to 10%.
  • One-year-old children are rarely affected by this syndrome.
  • Also, children who have learned to roll over, sit down, and get up independently are practically not susceptible to SIDS because they can take a comfortable position during sleep.

First aid for a child when breathing stops

First, pay special attention to the changes in your child’s behavior throughout the day. Decreases in appetite and physical activity may occur, but these factors are not specific and can indicate anything.

Signs of SIDS:

  • The child is not active.
  • The skin turns blue.
  • Decreased muscle tone.
  • Breathing becomes weak, or apnea is observed.
  • Heart rhythm disorder is possible.

Important!  As soon as you suspect that your baby is having trouble breathing or having a heartbeat, call the ambulance immediately.

Before help arrives, you can help your child by providing first aid:

  • Run your fingers along the spine intensively several times.
  • Shake the baby, try to wake him up.
  • Massage your hands and feet and earlobes.

Is it possible to prevent SIDS?

  • Earlier, doctors considered the theory related to the baby’s suffocation during the period of joint sleep of the mother and child. According to some reports, this information is irrelevant. ( On the contrary, many scientists believe that sleeping together is a preventive measure for SIDS. The mother can also control the child’s sleep and react in time in case of unforeseen danger.
  • Avoid sleeping together if you are drunk, tired, or taking sedatives.
  • It would help if you did not cover a one-year-old child with a blanket. It is better to dress him warmly. Use only firm mattresses recommended by podiatrists and pediatricians.
  • Stop smoking in your home. Tobacco smoke is not acceptable for a child.
  • There should be no unnecessary items in the crib while sleeping.
  • Lay the child on his back and turn his head slightly to the side. Sleeping on your stomach is unacceptable.
  • It is also unacceptable to lay the child on a soft mattress and use a blanket and pillow.

There are statistics on sudden infant death syndrome. It is used to search for ways to prevent the syndrome and promptly identify risk groups.

  • Sudden infant death syndrome among infants is diagnosed in 0.2-1.5 cases per 1000 children.
  • Babies under the age of 8 months are more at risk.
  • It often occurs at 13 weeks (2 to 4 months).
  • 60% of the dead children are boys.
  • This happens from twelve o’clock at night to 6 a.m. during the cold season.

In the first year of life, sudden death syndrome is the sudden death of a child.

Sudden infant death syndrome: statistics

In a dream, sudden infant death syndrome is the sudden death of a child under one age. At the same time, there are no objective reasons for the death. Despite such a syndrome’s unpredictability, modern diagnostics has several techniques to assess the degree of risk.

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

The sudden death of an infant characterizes this syndrome (SIDS). It is sometimes referred to as sudden infant death syndrome or “death in the cradle.” Its key feature is death without any compelling reason. This excludes congenital diseases, accidents, infections, or acquired ailments that could provoke the rapid death of the child.

This syndrome is sporadic, ranging from 0.1 to one and a half cases per 1000 babies. It is at this age that the largest number of deaths occurs. 60% of deaths occur in boys. After 8 months of age, the risk of sudden death decreases. Sudden infant death usually occurs between midnight and 6 a.m., more often during the winter months. Today, the share of this syndrome among all child deaths under one-year-old is 30%.

Risk factors: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

During the study of cases of development of sudden infant death syndrome, the following risk factors were identified:

  • while sleeping, the baby lies on his stomach.
  • Soft bedding is used for the child.
  • The baby was born prematurely.
  • Using blankets that are too warm and excessive heating, which leads to overheating of the child.
  • The presence in the family of cases of stillbirth or sudden death syndrome.
  • Lack of medical supervision of pregnancy or its late start.
  • The development of depression in the mother during the period of bearing a child.
  • Smoking, alcoholism, drug use by the mother.
  • The poor economic situation of the family.
  • The mother did not reach the age of 17.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of developing SIDS by 40%. In this case, we are talking not only about active but also about passive smoking. After a child’s birth, even smoking in the next room with an open window can harm him.

Causes: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Since SIDS is currently an unexplored phenomenon, it is impossible to establish specific causes of its occurrence. Nevertheless, scientists put forward several assumptions about the possible provoking factors.

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Respiratory dysfunction

According to statistics, about 82% of the dead children diagnosed with sudden death syndrome died in their sleep, 70% of them – lying on their stomachs face down or to the side. In the process of sleep, a person may periodically lose breath when it stops for a moment. Such stops in the respiratory activity do not indicate any deviation.

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These sleep pauses are called an apnea and are common in babies. This is due to the immaturity of the regulatory mechanisms. However, if the child has a delay in breathing for more than 15 seconds, it is necessary to consult a pediatrician. Also, an alarming symptom is a frequent apnea (more than one case per hour).

Brain stem pathologies

The vasomotor and respiratory centers are located in the medulla oblongata. Recent studies have revealed changes in the cellular structure in the brain stem in children who died from SIDS. Similar violations occurred during intrauterine development due to hypoxia.

After a sudden respiratory arrest, children who were rescued underwent ultrasound echography. Which made it possible to identify pathologies of the cerebral arteries in 50% of these patients. Due to the insufficient development of the cervical muscles, it is still quite difficult for a small child to turn his head independently.

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From only four months, babies gain the ability to turn their heads freely, doing it naturally and safely. However, blood flow to the brain is even more difficult when prone. Studies have shown that in such cases, the baby has a weak pulse and sharply slowed breathing.

Heart problems: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Short-term cessation of the heartbeat can also be detected in a healthy child. But such a symptom requires immediate attention to a specialist. According to some scientists, the greatest danger to SIDS development is not apnea but heart failure. In particular, we are talking about asystole or cardiac arrest.

Risk factors in this case are:

  • extra systolic rhythm disturbances.
  • A decrease in the number of heart contractions (less than 70 beats per minute).
  • Identification of blockages on the electrocardiogram.
  • Frequent changes in heart rate.

Sudden infant death syndrome often develops against the background of a mutation in a gene responsible for the structure of sodium channels in the heart muscle.

Due to the changes observed in these structures, a violation of the heart rhythm occurs. Even though a short-term cessation of the heartbeat can be detected in a healthy child. This symptom requires immediate attention to a specialist.


There is a wide range of evidence supporting the relationship between SIDS and severe stress experienced by the child. Nonspecific stress syndrome can lead to the following changes in the baby’s body:

  • minor hemorrhages in the lungs and thymus gland.
  • The decrease in blood viscosity.
  • Ulceration of the mucous membrane of the digestive tract.

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Symptoms: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Since sudden infant death syndrome occurs without any prerequisites, it is tough to determine the symptoms in this case. There are only indicative data that you should pay attention to:

  • Lack of breath during sleep for more than 15 seconds.
  • Heart rhythm problems.
  • Anxiety, weight loss, eye discharge, and rash.
  • Enlargement of the liver, spleen, and tonsils.

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The above symptoms in one form or another occur in 90% of children a couple of weeks before the development of sudden infant death syndrome.


Polysomnography is a crucial step in the diagnosis of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

To assess the risk of developing sudden infant death syndrome, the following techniques are used:

  • A classic diagnostic method that allows you to identify possible failures in the work of the heart. The procedure is accessible, informative, and completely painless.
  • Magdeburg score table. A testing algorithm that is designed to calculate the individual statistical risk of developing sudden infant death syndrome.
  • A procedure involving a sleep study. The technique is a crucial step in the diagnosis of SIDS.

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Despite the lack of accurate information about the causes and symptoms of the disease, modern experts have developed several preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing sudden infant death syndrome.

The most complete and effective method is recognized by Dr. Komarovsky, which invites parents to follow these tips:

  • Children under one year of age should only be put to sleep on their backs. In no case should a child, accustomed to sleeping on his back, be laid on his stomach. In this case, the likelihood of sudden death increases significantly. (Strattera)
  • Smoking women during pregnancy is unacceptable. It is also necessary to protect the child from contact with tobacco smoke.
  • As soon as the child has learned to roll over on his own, the swaddling should be abandoned.
  • The baby should sleep in his crib.
  • Orthopedic pillows, sleep positioners, and stuffed toys in a baby’s crib increase the syndrome’s risk.
  • Do not overheat your baby by using overly warm blankets.

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In 2015 alone, more than 1,600 children died from sudden infant death syndrome in the United States. Given this syndrome’s extreme danger, parents should pay attention to the above symptoms and contact a specialist at the slightest change in the baby’s condition.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – Everything Parents Need to Know

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, “death in the cradle”) is the death of a child under the age of 1 year without signs of illness and features at an autopsy. This phenomenon is one of the most mysterious and tragic in medicine; many myths and legends around it.

To avoid unnecessary fears for the child and prevent SIDS, you need to know the scientific point of view on this issue.


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